Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

https://www.iranrights.org
Omid, a memorial in defense of human rights in Iran
One Person’s Story

Ayub (Ahmad) Bahramzehi

About

Age: 30
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam (Sunni)
Civil Status: Single

Case

Date of Killing: October 26, 2013
Location: Zahedan Prison, Zahedan, Sistan Va Baluchestan Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Unspecified counter-revolutionary offense; Membership of anti-regime guerilla group

About this Case

News of the execution of Ayub (“Ahmad”) Bahramzehi was published by a number of sources, including the Sistan Va Baluchestan Judiciary (October 27, 2013,) The Baluch Activists’ Campaign (March 15, 2014,) and Human Rights Activists for Democracy in Iran (October 30, 2013.) Additional information on the case was obtained from an interview conducted by the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation with a source close to Mr. Bahramzehi (ABF interview,) a Baluch Activists’ Campaign interview with a relative of Mr. Bahramzehi (October 26, 2015,) and other sources.*

Mr. Bahramzehi, son of Golmohammad, was a young Baluch bachelor and native of the village of Nasirabad, Sarbaz county in Iran’s Sistan Va Baluchestan province (ABF interview, Baluch Activists interview.) He had obtained a high school diploma with a concentration in literature and was engaged in religious studies at the Kuhvan Religious School. According to his family, he was an ordinary young man who was not politically active or involved with any party or group (ABF interview.) Bahramzehi was first arrested in June 2008 in the course of clashes between Nasirabad residents and security forces intent on entering residents’ houses without a warrant. He spent a year in the Intelligence Office detention facility in Zahedan and Zahedan Central Prison before being released on bail (Baluch Activists, October 26, 2015.

Background

Following an armed attack by Jaish ul-Adl* on a border station in Saravan, Sistan and Baluchistan (Friday night, October 25, 2013), as a result of which at least 14 border guards were killed and seven injured, the Ministry of Justice of the province reported the execution of 16 prisoners on Saturday, October 26. The Public and Revolutionary Prosecutor of Zahedan referred to the execution of the 16 “villains connected to enemy groups” as “retaliation.” According to the Chief Justice of Sistan and Baluchistan, the execution of these convicts had been “postponed out of Islamic compassion” but due to Jaish ul-Adl’s assault on provincial border guards and “insistence on cowardly terrorist attacks,” the sentences were at last carried out (Asr-e Hamoon, Fars News Agency.) The convicts had been arrested during the preceding few years and were not connected to Jaish ul-Adl’s armed attack, which took place only a few hours before their execution. They faced various charges across different cases: according to provincial judicial authorities, eight of them had been accused of drug offenses (Ministry of Justice of Sistan and Baluchistan.)

Human rights organizations and activists called this mass summary execution a “reprisal” and protested against the execution of the prisoners who were not directly connected to the armed attack. Ahmed Shaheed, United Nations Special rapporteur on the Human Rights situation in Iran, called the execution of these people a type of retaliation in-kind and an illegal act according to international human rights laws. Shirin Ebadi, lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, and Sarah Leah Whitson, Human Rights Watch expert, also considered the execution of the 16 prisoners in retaliation for the border guards’ killing as a violation of legal norms and an indicator of the lack of independence of Iran’s judiciary. Both experts condemned the executions. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, human rights activists, and the International Federation for Human Rights also issued statements protesting the reprisal.

Arrest and Detention

According to comments made by a source close to Mr. Bahramzehi, agents of the Intelligence Ministry took him into custody on April 19, 2010. Mr. Bahramzehi was subject to beatings during the arrest, and a friend of his was fatally shot by security operatives (Baluch Activists.) Mr. Bahramzehi spent nine months in solitary confinement at the Intelligence Ministry facility in Zahedan before being transferred to Zahedan Central Prison (ABF interview.) During his time at the Ministry detention center he was denied rights to contact with his family and access to a lawyer and was subjected to physical and psychological torture. Later on, in general population at Zahedan Central, he turned his attention to Qoranic studies and assisting other prisoners; after some time he managed to memorize the Qoran in its entirety (ABF interview.)

Trial

No information is available regarding the details of Mr. Bahramzehi’s trial.

Charges

According to comments made by a source close to Mr. Bahramzehi, the charges brought against him comprised “resisting security agents, incitement against intelligence agents, collaboration with Jundullah, and meeting with criminals on Pakistani soil” (Baluch Activists, October 26, 2015.) A statement from the Sistan Va Baluchestan Judiciary details the charges brought against Mr. Bahramzehi and seven other codefendants as “moharebeh (‘war against God,’) corruption on earth through collaboration with and membership in Jundullah, and effective participation in terrorist incidents in the province in recent years” (October 27, 2013.)

The validity of the criminal charges brought against this defendant cannot be ascertained in the absence of the basic guarantees of a fair trial.

Evidence of Guilt

The report of this execution does not contain information regarding the evidence provided against the defendant.

Defense

No information is available regarding Mr. Bahramzehi’s defense: a source closed to him reports that he did not enjoy a lawyer of his choosing and insisted on his innocence with his family. In court, he denied the charges brought against him. Bahramzehi’ court-appointed lawyer suggested he accept the charges in order to lighten his punishment; Bahramzehi protested, telling him he had not been present in court to defend his client and that he should not pressure him into a guilty plea (Baluch Activists, October 26, 2015.)

The families of some of the executed prisoners addressed a letter to Ayatollah Khamenei. Referring to the statement of the Deputy Prosecutor of Zahedan in his meeting with the families, they wrote “You killed 16 of us, so we will kill 16 of you, too”. Referencing the instances of torture to which the defendants were subjected, including “connecting electrical cords to the body, pressing hot irons against the body, hanging weights from delicate body parts, and suspension from the hands and feet,” they protested the violation of the rights of the defendants and asked for a special team to be sent to investigate the issue, to talk to the prisoners about their torture and to the families of the executed prisoners to find out why their children had been killed. The families believed that the executions represents an extension of ethnic and religious discrimination in Sistan and Baluchistan, stating that “They don’t care about people’s complaints; as soon as people complain, any investigation is cast as a sectarian and ethnic matter and is therefore terminated. Cruelty, tyranny, and torture increase and everybody accepts that they should not complain, that they should be prepared to be arrested, tortured, imprisoned, and executed and think they deserve it… [in our province] articles 19, 32, 36, and 39 of the Constitution have been replaced by the principles of arrest, torture in prison, and execution. People don’t have a voice and if they speak out…they are members of Abdolmalek’s group who have helped the enemies, so the complaint is halted right away.” (HRANA, December 11, 2011)

Judgment

The Islamic Revolutionary Court in Zahedan sentenced Mr. Bahramzehi to death. Zahedan’s Public and Revolutionary Public Prosecutor reported that the sentence was confirmed by judiciary officials without providing further detail (Prosecutor General of Sistan Va Baluchestan.)

Mr. Bahramzehi was executed on October 26, 2013 in Hamedan Central Prison. His execution was conducted in secret and without the observance of proper legal procedures: his lawyer was not provided with prior notification and his family was not granted a final visitation. Bahramzehi’s body was not turned over to his family, and information regarding a precise burial location is not available. Zahedan Central Prison was announced as the site of the executions of Bahramzehi and 15 other inmates in a statement from the provincial Prosecutor General (October 27, 2013.)

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*Sources: Human Rights Activists for Democracy in Iran (September 14, 2013), Asrehamoon (October 26, 2013), Jaish ul-Adl weblog (October 26, 2013), ISNA (October 26, 2013), HRANA (September 13, 2012; October 27, 2013), Radio Farda (October 27, 2013), Deutsche Welle (October 30, 2013), Edalatnews (November 27, 2012).
** The Popular Resistance Movement of Iran, known as Jondollah, was established in 2003. This group declared its goal as the struggle for achieving the religious and national rights of Baluch and Sunni people in Sistan Va Baluchestan province in Iran and emphasized that it is not a separatist group. In 2005, this group began a series of military operations against Islamic Republic forces during which dozens of the regime’s forces were captured or killed. In response, the Islamic Republic arrested and executed dozens of members of this group; military operations continue in Sistan Va Baluchestan. In an interview with the media outside of Iran, the leader of this group, Abdolmalek Rigi, rejected the government’s labels of “terrorist” and “foreign agent” and claimed that they began their struggle against the Islamic Republic to replace it with “a popular regime that recognizes the rights of all humans.” The news of this arrest was published by the Intelligence Ministry of Iran on February 23, 2010, and the circumstance of his arrest is yet unknown. Abdolmalek Rigi was hanged in the Evin prison on June 20, 2010. In early 2011 a number of Jondollah’s members under the leadership of Sallahudin Farroughi established the Jaish ul-Adl organization, implementing organizational and structural changes and reconsidering some of their former methods. Jaish ul-Adl describes itself as a Sunni group emphasizing “federalism for Iran and self-rule for Baluchistan” as well as “armed struggle against the Islamic Republic.”

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